Corsets are the most prominent trend in 2021 sartorial fashion. It began with the wildly popular Regency-era series Bridgerton causing a 123% spike in searches for the constrictive silhouette, in the four-week span following its December release alone. There were also celebrity sightings with Dua Lipa, Billie Eilish and Jordan Alexander taking the trend for a spin. A bevy of red carpet and runway appearances later, and the corset is the trend of 2021.
However, it wasn’t until this year that the modernized Elizabethan and Jacobean-style undergarments were created by Rosie Evans, a Welsh designer.
Evans, then 25, originally planned to be a costume designer. However, she realized that creating costumes-esque looks for everyday people was more satisfying than designing costumes for actors. Corsets were a particular interest. She studied them extensively at the University of the West of England, Bristol, her final year. But she never made one. One day, she just thought, “Why not?”
“I was quite interested in them, so I thought, I’m just going to carry on with this,” she says .”I’m going to give it a go and do some mock-ups myself and just see what happens.” Her first corset was designed using old sofa upholstery fabric and a Jacobean-style pattern. Evans’ corset-making venture coincided with the emergence of corset-making as a trend in fashion and pop music. She says the interest from the public was immediate. She recalls, “I made that one and [posted it], and people began to message us.”
The rest looked like something she would make from the French fairy tales that inspire her. The inspiration for her latest collection was Charles Perrault’s 1697 French fairy tale Cinderella. Also, the 1970s French film Donkey Skin (which is based on 1695’s Peau d’ane fable) inspired the rest. She had more than 16,000 followers before long. Here she shares her collection of fantasy corsets. All of them are made with materials that you probably already have at home like tablecloths and tea towels. You can also find videos of her complex process on TikTok.
She’s also designed styles inspired by Anne Boleyn’s bustier (Natalie Dormer) on The Tudors using old pillowcases, recycled cotton and felt, embroidered with retro clothing labels, and deadstock silk ivory silk.
Today, Evans’ namesake brand is stocked across Europe and the U.S., including Paris’ Les Fleurs Studio, which was founded by fashion influencer Maria Bernad, and Doza Shop, an independent multi-brand retailer based in Los Angeles. In May, her collaboration with British designer Bethany Williams – which benefited The Magpie Project, a U.K.-based nonprofit that assists families in east London – landed her work in British Vogue.
Evans says that the sudden increase in interest in her brand’s products is due to a combination. During the pandemic, people’s consumption habits have changed, with many seeking out more eco-conscious fashion. There is also the issue of cost. She says corsets are a big trend right now, but not many people are making them sustainably. Evans also makes crafts pieces out of recycled materials. Evans uses historic corsets to guide her designs, which she believes are more fashionable and wearable. They are usually priced between PS120 to PS160, or roughly $165 to $219. Corsets made by a lingerie brand such as Agent Provocateur, for example, can go up to $1,000.
Her signature fantasy-inspired style appealed to many in lockdown. Many enjoyed a sartorial escape from the ordinary to somewhere far, faraway. She says, “Corsets are about dressing up and making you not look like a person from that time.”
Evans is just beginning. We’re going to be seeing more of her designer with a new studio in Brighton (England) and a growing presence at TikTok where brands can go from zero up to 100 in a matter of minutes.